Lincoln Park golf makeover plan fading fast

Golf groups disagree on scope, size of venue

Gary Phillips works with his 8-year-old grandson Hunter Jeschke, both from Grand Junction, at the Lincoln Park Golf Course driving range. Hunter was going to paly in the ACE Jr Golf Tournament at Lincoln Park.



By MIKE WIGGINS
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A multimillion-dollar proposal to remake Lincoln Park Golf Course is stuck in the sand trap because supporters and detractors disagree on the most fundamental aspect of the project: shrinking the course from nine holes to six.

Eight months after a local nonprofit group unveiled an ambitious plan to reduce the size of the course, create a modern driving range and practice facilities and build facilities powered by renewable energy, members acknowledge they have raised no money and are not actively working on the project.

“I would never say it’s dead. I would just say it’s on the back burner and on standstill,” said Mike Nathe, executive director of the ACE Golf Foundation, which works to introduce young people to the game.

The organization pitched “Refresh Lincoln Park” as a way to create a place where youngsters could learn the rules and practice, and to improve an 83-year-old course where shortcomings have become more magnified in recent years. ACE Golf Foundation held open houses in December and January to discuss the details of the project and receive feedback.

Nathe said “Refresh Lincoln Park” has had its opponents but also has received a lot of positive feedback. He said a “worldwide recognized golf name” — he declined to identify the person or group — was prepared to endorse the project.

But then, Nathe said, he got wind that somebody with the city “came in and said we don’t want to change things.” He said he didn’t know who that person was.

Nathe, who owns Sunlight Saunas of Colorado, also acknowledged he hasn’t had time to push the project forward.

Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Director Rob Schoeber said he and Eloy Vendegna, the golf pro at Lincoln Park, met with ACE board members and told them they were getting an earful from golfers about the plan to reduce the size of the course.

“From the people that come to golf and at the pro shop, Eloy and his staff were kind of getting beat up,” Schoeber said.

He said it was apparent that “the direction (ACE) wanted to go was different than where users of the golf course wanted to go.” He said he suggested that ACE and Lincoln Park users come up with a plan both groups can support.

Reford Theobold, a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said the City Council in 2005 contemplated a number of options for altering the golf course or eliminating it altogether in favor of a golf learning center. It ultimately chose to leave the course alone after residents objected to any changes.

“At that point, we had everything on the table,” Theobold said, noting he was speaking for himself and not for the advisory board.

“So, soon after that, for an organization to come with just one proposal is going to be a real tough sell. It’s almost like a solution in search of a problem.”

Theobold said the board hasn’t been asked to make a recommendation on the project.


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